Beware Land Day
The 36th Land Day could potentially be the biggest – and most violent – ever.
Naksa Day protests at Kalandia Photo: LOAY ABU HAYKEL / REUTERS
An international array of terrorist organizations such as Hezbollah and Hamas,
rogue states such as Iran and radical left-wing organizations such as Code Pink
have joined forces to make the 36th Land Day potentially the biggest – and most
violent – ever.
There will be the usual processions on Friday within the
triangle of Lower Galilee towns – Sakhnin, Arrabe and Deir Hanna – which were at
the center of the March 30, 1976, riots and clashes between Arab Israelis and
security forces that left six Arabs dead and about a hundred injured. The violence was sparked by government moves to appropriate Arab land in the North to be used in part for developing Jewish towns in the Galilee. The protests spread to the Negev,
the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Palestinian refugee camps in
It was the first time Arab Israelis initiated violent political
activity at the national level.
This year, there will be demonstrations
in the unrecognized Negev village of Wadi al-Na’am against the relocation of
Beduin under the auspices of the government- approved Prawer Plan. And on
Shabbat there will be a march in Jaffa against efforts to increase the Jewish
There will also be demonstrations in Hamas-controlled
Gaza, including attempts to overrun the border with Israel.
additional dimension will be added to the protests against Israel’s
“expropriation” of Arab Israeli land. Called the Global March to Jerusalem, or
the catchier “GM2J,” this year’s demonstrations will also rally against what is
being called by organizers the “Judaization” of Jerusalem.
Jerusalem, or Al-Quds, the centerpiece, organizers of the event have managed to
turn this into an international affair with solidarity demonstrations expected
in Egypt, Jordan, Iran and elsewhere. No demonstrations are expected in Syria,
where people are busy fighting a civil war. And despite pressure from Hezbollah,
the Lebanese Army and the Lebanese government wish to avoid a rerun of the
events of last May, when hundreds of Palestinians in Lebanon and Syria,
commemorating Israel’s Independence Day (“Nakba” or “catastrophe” Day for
Arabs), rushed the border with Israel. Ten were killed by the IDF and Lebanese
forces. Lebanon has, therefore, forbidden demonstrations south of the Litani
River, according to Beirut’s The Daily Star. And just 5,000 are expected to
gather at Beaufort Castle in Nabatiya.
Nevertheless, there is a very real
chance of a major flare-up. Just this week, Marwan Barghouti, who is serving
five life sentences for the murder of four Israelis and a Greek Orthodox priest,
called on Palestinians to launch a “large-scale popular resistance.”
former head of the Tanzim – one of Fatah’s armed wings – enjoys broad support
among Palestinians and has been visited by prominent left-wing figures such as
novelist Amos Oz, Meretz’s former MK Haim Oron and Labor’s MK Amir
Exacerbating the situation is the hunger strike of 30- year-old
Hana Shalabi, who has gone more than 40 days without food and is in critical
condition. At least 29 other Palestinians have joined Shalabi in hunger strikes
protesting the government’s policy of administrative detention. And Shalabi’s
struggle has aroused Palestinian rancor.
The increasing radicalization of
the Arab Israeli leadership can also increase the chances for
violence. Israelis such as Muhammad Zeidan, chairman of the Monitoring
Committee of the Israeli Arab Leadership, who was on the Mavi Marmara in May
2010, and who call for a binational state and demand that millions of
Palestinian “refugees” be given the right to “return” to towns inside the Green
Line, are involved in organizing this weekend’s demonstrations. Zeidan said that
he has warned Israeli security forces to distance themselves from the
processions in order to avoid violence.
We can only hope that the IDF,
the police and other security personnel have taken the necessary precautions to
avoid as best as possible violent clashes that could ignite an already tense
And we can only lament the fact that Arab Israelis and
Palestinians are so radicalized that they have no qualms in joining forces with
the likes of Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran rather than reconciling themselves to the
existence of a Jewish state and learning to live in peace.